Alex Rodriguez has never quite fit into the limelight and the media circus of New York City.
A-Rod has been everyone’s favorite villain, as well as an easily accessible punching bag for anyone with a pen or keyboard. He has also been targeted, and rightfully so, as a major catalyst in the Yankees' recent postseason failures.
The relentless negative media coverage and mockery tossed in A-Rod’s direction has been both deserved and unfair at the same time. It reminds me of the ridicule that a bitter green fellow who lived in the mountains outside of Whoville once endured.
Much of A-Rod’s condemnation is centered on his inability to perform in the later innings of his team’s biggest games.
Narrator: “A-Rod feared RISP come each baseball season. Oh, please don't ask why, no one quite knows the reason. It could be, perhaps, that his cleats were too tight. Or maybe his helmet wasn't positioned just right. But I think that the most likely reason of all may have been that his bravado was two sizes too small.”
Rodriguez likewise enjoys escaping the roar of his city’s deconstructive criticism, though he seems to do a poor job of making proper decisions. His exposed steroid use has been well-documented ad nauseum, especially the perceived fabrications littered throughout his explanation.
A-Rod was caught red-handed in much the same way as the Grinch stealing Cindy Lou Who’s Christmas tree.
Narrator: “But you know, that old A-Rod was so smart and so slick, that he thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick.”
The stresses that followed were enough to nearly consume A-Rod and his disappearing swagger. Ironically, playing the game that he once took for granted was the only thing that provided him with a refuge.
A-Rod could temporarily disregard his problems while playing in Spring Training games and preparing for the World Baseball Classic. However, an untimely hip injury quickly derailed all of that.
Now, forced to step away from baseball, Rodriguez was better able to appreciate and embrace what the sport had always given to him.
Narrator: “A-Rod reflected on the swings he wouldn’t make and the runs he wouldn’t score. Then he thought of something he hadn't before! Maybe baseball, he thought, doesn't come from cashed checks. Maybe baseball...perhaps...is a little bit more complex!”
Rodriguez became a man on a mission after this revelation and aimed to return weeks earlier than the advised rehabilitation schedule. He realized that nothing mattered aside from what his teammates and daughters thought of him, and playing 3B for the New York Yankees.
Narrator: “And what happened then? Well, in the Bronx they say that A-Rod’s giant ego shrank three sizes that day. And then the true meaning of baseball came through, and then A-Rod found the strength and determination of 10 Yankees plus two.”
The Yankees will be thrilled to plug Rodriguez and his new attitude back into the heart of the lineup. His return truly cannot come soon enough.
As one of the few writers who has consistently supported A-Rod throughout a tumultuous offseason, it has been easy to open my eyes to the gaping hole in the Yankees lineup.
Without the Yankees' best slugger anchoring the middle of the batting order, New York ranks 19th in team batting average and 13th in team on-base percentage.
Only two hitters in the starting lineup are currently batting above .270: Nick Swisher (.333) has quickly cooled following a torrid start, and 2B Robinson Cano (.388) has rebounded well from a 2008 letdown.
Rodriguez’s absence has inarguably crippled an offensive attack that generated lofty preseason expectations. As a result, New York is treading water in the league’s toughest and most competitive division.
Narrator: “The seconds are now ticking until A-Rod’s return. The Yankees would love to scratch offense off their list of concerns. It will be a sight for sore eyes when he grabs a glove and a bat, now knowing that wins and a ring mean as much as a wallet that is fat.
Most fans with a heart will be willing and able, to forgive their returning slugger with a hip that is stable. They will wait to watch a ball smack off the façade, and hear John Sterling’s call, ‘An A-Bomb from A-Rod.’”